• The Championship at Laguna National

Dougherty makes first European Tour cut in two years

ESPN staff
May 2, 2014
Nick Dougherty has largely been playing on the second-tier Challenge Tour in recent years © Getty Images

Nick Dougherty has made his first European Tour cut for two years at The Championship at Laguna National - only his third in 43 events.

A protege of Sir Nick Faldo, Dougherty enjoyed an exceptional amateur career and a blistering start to his professional career, winning the Rookie of the Year award before making his Tour breakthrough at the 2005 Singapore Masters then adding the Dunhill Links Championship and BMW International Open to his CV.

But with many commentators predicting big things for the Liverpool golfer, who is married to Sky Sports presenter Di Stewart, Dougherty's form took a turn for the catastrophic. He made just one cut in 32 events in 2011 and lost his Tour card and has had to rely on invites since.

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Having successfully negotiated his way past the second round for the first time on the European Tour since the Madeira Islands Open in May 2012, Dougherty will begin the weekend eight shots off leader Panuphol Pittayarat at 13-under par.

Englishmen Chris Wood and Tommy Fleetwood, who both carded second rounds of 67 to move to nine-under, are also in contention alongside Scotland's Scott Jamieson, whose opening-round 64 was followed with a disappointing 71.

Thai 21-year-old Panuphol birdied two of his last three holes to maintain a one-stroke advantage. The overnight leader shot a four-under 68, a stroke ahead of Scott Hend of Australia, American David Lipsky and Felipe Aguilar of Chile.

Panuphol, ranked 451st in the world, has never won on the European Tour and missed his last three cuts this year on the Asian Tour.

"The two birdies in my last three holes were nice to end off my round," he said. "It's nice to be putting myself in a good position heading into the last two rounds. I would rather stay up there than to be chasing the lead actually. I just want to grab my chance and not let it go."

Hend had eight birdies and just one bogey to shoot a 7-under 65, the low round of the day. The Australian, who is also looking for his first European Tour title, said it was difficult to stay focused in the hot, humid conditions at Singapore's Laguna National golf course.

"I am used to this kind of weather but it still comes to a point where your body just cannot take it and it makes you lose concentration," he said. "I'm managing well so far. Two more rounds to go and we will see what happens."

Aguilar, playing with a sore wrist after a recent mountain biking accident, birdied his last three holes to card a 67.

"[The injury] doesn't bother me much, but I still have pain. It will be there for the next four or five months," he said. "Everything you do is dangerous so you have to be careful, but I'm playing good golf because I'm happy, and so the mountain biking helps."

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